Meet the Petful Team

Hillary R. Kitten is the boss of Dave and is Petful's real head honcho.
Hillary is the boss of our publisher, Dave, and is the real head honcho. Early on in her tenure, she instituted a mandatory naptime policy.

For its first nearly 6 years, this website started out as Pets Adviser. Then, in July 2015, Petful.com sprang to life. Our goal is simple: to offer you all the tools you need to give your pet a happier life. All of us here at Petful are passionate about improving animal welfare.

Petful is based in New York City, but the whole team of freelancers is scattered across the country. Keep reading to learn more about the amazing people who are making Petful possible:

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Dave Baker | Founder & Publisher

Dave has more than 20 years of experience in the media industry, including work with The New York Times and The Nation magazine.

He also worked at the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper, where he and the staff shared 2 Pulitzer Prizes for work done in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In 2009, Dave founded Pets Adviser, which eventually became Petful.

He also runs a business proofreading service and works from his home office in Brooklyn, New York, where his 14-year-old cat, Hillary, keeps a close eye on him.

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Kristine Lacoste | Editor in Chief

Kristine is an author, poet and pet lover from Louisiana. She is the author of an award-nominated book, One Unforgettable Journey. She was the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets, for 3 years. She is also employed as director of human resources and chief financial officer for a firm in Louisiana.

Kristine has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a bachelor’s degree in English and will graduate at the end of 2017 with her Master of Business Administration degree. She has been with Petful since 2011 and has kept every article topic stored in her head since then.

Her love of animals started at a young age with cats, dogs and many frogs.


Melissa Smith | Discussions Manager & Writer

Melissa is a longtime animal lover, pet sitter, dog walker and business owner in Massachusetts who has been with Petful since 2013. She lives on Cape Cod with her teenage son and her cat, Harrison.

As discussions manager for Petful, Melissa makes sure that our comments section is respectful and fun. She also writes a variety of articles on everything from grooming tips to advice on pet behaviors.

Melissa spends her time running her business, Fresh Start Services, which offers professional pet sitting on Cape Cod, as well as looking up pets for the Presidential Pet Museum, walking dogs, visiting with chickens and befriending cats on her pet sitting visits — but she never forgets Harrison, who is always waiting at home to remind her who is the “top cat” in the household.

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T.J. Banks | Cat Behaviors Writer

T.J. is the author of Sketch People: Stories Along the Way, A Time for Shadows, Catsong, Souleiado, Derv & Co.: A Life Among Felines and Houdini, a novel for young adults.

Catsong, a collection of her best cat stories, was the winner of a Merial Human–Animal Bond Award.

T.J. has received writing awards from the Cat Writers’ Association (CWA), ByLine and The Writing Self.


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Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD | Veterinarian Writer

Dr. Deb, a small animal and exotics veterinarian, splits her time between her animal hospital in Pelham, Massachusetts and her studio in New York City. She shares her busy life with her husband, Andy; a rescue dog; and several cats.

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Dr. Pippa Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS  | Veterinarian Writer

Dr. Elliott lives in North London, England, and is a graduate of the University of Glasgow. Married with 2 teenage sons, she is also housekeeping staff to several cats and a guinea pig.


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Gayle Hickman | Buzz Writer

Bet you didn’t realize Petful was a family business. Guess what? Gayle is Dave’s mom.

She and her husband, Doug, managed Petful’s online shop out of their home in South Carolina, with Gayle handling the day-to-day tasks and Doug happily packing all the orders. He kept a big U.S. map on the wall with dozens of pins marking every location to which he had shipped orders. Almost every state had a pin in it. (Petful’s shop was discontinued not long before Doug died, far too young, in late 2016.)

Gayle and Doug shared their lives with many pets over the years — not only dogs and cats, but also rabbits, goats and chickens.

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Allison Gray | Writer

Allison is a photographer, artist, runner and tattooed remedial knitter.

She is married to her high school sweetheart, with whom she has visited 6 countries. Together they are the parents of a rescued dog, Banjo, and advocates for animal adoption and responsible pet care.

You can follow Allison on her blog, Babe: Pig Dog in the Big City. You can view Allison’s artwork here: Custom Pet Art.


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Karen Doll | Writer

As a veteran homeschool teacher and chicken keeper, Karen enjoys putting her passions into words as a freelance writer on these topics.

She is married to David and is the mother of Emily and Jeremy and a menagerie of pets: a bichon frise, Pip; 3 cats, Kitty, Boo and The Bean (a.k.a. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow); and a small flock of hens.

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Kirsten Peek | Animal Welfare Writer

Kirsten lives in Austin and works for a nonprofit organization and as a freelance writer. She serves on the board of directors for a cat cafe that is opening soon in San Marcos, which aims to promote adoptable cats for a local shelter.

Kirsten previously worked as an adoption counselor at a no-kill animal shelter throughout college as she earned her journalism degree.

In her spare time, she fosters for local shelters and spends time with her adopted dog, Flea, and 2 adopted cats, Sarabi and Mufasa. Follow her on Twitter: @kirsten_peek.


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Jillian Blume | Features Writer

Jillian is a New York City–based writer whose feature articles have appeared in magazines and newspapers including the New York Observer, Marie Claire, Self and many others.

She received a master’s degree in creative writing from New York University, has taught writing and literature at the School of Visual Arts, and is currently working on a novel.

Like the rest of us at Petful, Jillian passionately supports animal welfare and rescue, and she often covers these topics in her articles.

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Julie Kim | Designer

Julie not only headed up both the website design and the rebranding campaign for Petful, but she also happens to be Dave’s talented, amazing wife! She takes care of all sorts of design problems that pop up.

Even though Julie is highly allergic to cats, she loves “family time” with Hillary (pictured at the top of this page) and brushes her almost daily.

You can check out more of her work here.